A Day in the Life at HLP
Today I woke up at 4:00AM at home - Cherry Hill, New Jersey to be exact. It was 38 Degrees, but I knew I had to dress for Puerto Rico - at least partially, so I decided on shorts with a T-shirt, long-sleeve shirt, and a jacket over that. Boat shoes for sure... I tip-toed around trying not to wake my wife & kids. Gathered my Satphone, iPad with electronic charts, my backup Garmin 796 GPS, and 3 chargers. I Got out the door at 0430 and made the quick drive to PHL; too early
for traffic! 1st on the upgrade list! Finally, my insane travel schedule pays off! Napped for 3 hours and awoke on touchdown into sunny Miami. Grabbed a rental car and called Aidan, our Co-pilot who was enroute to Opa Locka. I got to the FBO and Aidan was standing in the lobby with 2 Chainsaws, 2 (empty) gas cans, and supplies for Crisis Relief Team (CRT) crisisreliefteam.org including a bunch of boxes that contained medicine and medical supplies for the PHSU, and diapers, baby food, and water filters bound for "Casa de Todos", an orphanage in Ponce. Mel and Nora met us out on the ramp and helped us pack the aircraft
with the boxes, and then Desire from Fontainebleau Aviation ran us to the hangar to fill the remaining space with the famous "Buckets" from 3to5days.org (which are actually high volume water filtration systems). We were able to squeeze in 71 of them! We filled up our tanks with 480 Gallons of Jet-A and started engines around 11:50AM. The plane was heavy (for a Citation) taking off at just under 14,000 Lbs. What a GLORIOUS day! Barely a cloud in the sky, and smooth as silk. It took us 2 hours and 38 minutes according to the flight plan which took us nearly due-east over Bimini, Nassau, Turks and Caicos, and just north of the coast of the
Dominican Republic and Haiti, before starting our descent from 35,000 feet about 50 miles northwest of Puerto Rico. Picked up the runway at Ponce about 40 miles out and started the visual approach to Runway 12. The US Marine Corps and Air Force are running the show at PSE since the hurricane decimated the control tower. They're starting to recognize us we're there so often! The controller cleared us to land and we rolled into the GA Ramp. Slow day there today - only us and a Cessna 182 with some relief workers on board. Aidan and I unloaded all of the boxes and supplies and some local employees at the airport helped us get the 1,500 lbs. of supplies onto the baggage carts. Ensured the recipients got their gear, and chatted with Tim from CRT while we took on another 500 Gallons of fuel for the return trip. We turned the aircraft in about 90 minutes and loaded up 6 passengers (a doctor and some medical evacuees and their families). The return trip was just as smooth, and the sun set just as we started our descent around Bimini. We touched down at 7:30PM and the passengers were reunited with their families! Aidan cleaned up the aircraft and I went and ordered more fuel for tomorrow's flight. All-in-all another wonderful experience working with great people for a great cause! We'll do it all over again at 7 AM tomorrow, before I need to head down to S. America and work at my day job moving around some A320s for LAN Chile!